Karla and Chris Gillan first stumbled upon Mo-Ranch while driving through the windy backroads of the Texas Hill Country in 2014. The couple had heard about Mo many times as members of Memorial Drive Presbyterian Church in Houston, but they had not yet experienced the ranch for themselves. They could not believe their eyes as they eagerly drove through its unforgettable front gates where they were immediately greeted with historic buildings, elaborate ironwork and one-of-a-kind ornate designs.
During the Gillans first trip to the ranch, they were welcomed by an employee who was more than willing to guide the couple through the expansive 500-acre property. “The staff’s hospitality and the stunning historic buildings captured our hearts forever,” said Karla. “I guess you could say it was love at first sight! I knew from that moment on that I wanted to return to this place of peace, over and over. We’ve been smitten ever since and make it a point to bring our son’s scout troop out annually.”
The couple’s connection to Mo-Ranch continued to grow over the years. Karla has served as a chaperone for Jr. High Jubilee where she made many memories during those summer nights, laying on the warm concrete and looking up at the stars during vespers on the tennis court. She also enjoyed the morning runs through the property with the youth—although she was quite a bit slower than they were! One of her favorite moments was at the end of Jr. High Jubilee when she gathered with her family for a Fourth of July firework show along the river. The bursts of color lit up the starry Hill Country sky, illuminating the surrounding hills and sparkling waters below in a magical way that can only be experienced at Mo-Ranch.
“There is really no other place like Mo-Ranch with its beautiful historic buildings, furnishings and the crystal-clear river running through it,” said Karla. “It truly is a place of rest and respite—a place of peace. Then, combined with its fun activities such as canoeing, the slide and ropes course—it is truly a special place, indeed!”
Chris devotes many hours working with his son’s Boy Scout Troop, and he especially appreciates Mo-Ranch’s multitude of offerings that include outdoor fun and adventure. The couple places a high priority on having a place where they can put down their phones and not have a schedule.
“I believe that nature plays a significant role in teaching youth lifelong skills and perseverance in all circumstances,” said Chris. “It’s important to lead our youth to become ethical and moral leaders of the next generation. Mo-Ranch has an amazing staff across the board, but especially at the ropes course. They are incredibly fun and are so encouraging to our scouts. Their staff really encourage the boys to stay in scouting and achieve an Eagle Scout level. The kids relate so well with them, and it’s a joy to see!”
“I look back on the times we ate barbecue under the expansive pecan trees along the river’s edge with our scout troop, and how we’d spent the rest of the evening relaxing and talking with one another at the Youth Plaza while the boys played,” said Karla. “It’s just such a special time to slow down, share jokes, make memories and laugh a lot. We’ve had so many incredible memories already, and we can’t wait to see what the future holds for the ranch.”
“Mo-Ranch welcomes all who travel through its gates to create memories of their own for years to come while experiencing the beauty God has created in the Texas Hill Country,” said Karla. “I tell everyone I meet about Mo-Ranch. As the high adventure advisor for BSA Crew 1938, I not only bring our troop to Mo, but am active about spreading the word to other local troops about the opportunities available for their youth.”